Thursday, August 25, 2016

Guest Post: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Mono/Poly Relationships

Today's post comes from a post Gwenyth made over at the Mono/Poly Yahoo Group, who likened the adjustment phases a Mono partner goes through to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. I thought it was a well thought out post and wanted to share it here with her permission and minimal edits (removing some of the initial personal details and correcting some typos only). Thank you, Gwenyth!


For those who are not familiar with [Maslow's Hierarchy], it is a psychological theory on human development. It basically says that until the most base needs are met (represented by the bottom of a pyramid) a person is unlikely to have the energy to think about, let alone focus on, the next level up. (here is a link to a good illustration of the pyramid if anyone wants to see it 

Well, as I was typing a post to Facebook, I realized that this applies very much to poly/mono relationships, especially when poly is new or there is NRE in the air.  Many poly folks get frustrated with how long it takes their mono partners to adjust and/or how they react when a new relationship actually begins. And yet, Maslow's Hierarchy actually explains it pretty well.

You see, on the first/lowest level, is physical needs like food and water. However sex is also on that list. I have seen/heard more than a couple mono folks who get 'jealous' that their partner/metamour is getting more sex than them (not always the case of course). Well, it seems to make perfect sense that if the mono's sexual needs are not being met, they are definitely not going to be all peachy, happy that their sole partner is getting their needs met elsewhere.

The next level of the hierarchy includes security of body, resources family and the like. Now, a partner can tell me all they want that bringing poly into the mix is not going to put any of these things at risk. However, it has to be remembered that a sense of security is a feeling, not a reality. I know a woman who has $60,000 in savings and worries on a regular basis about whether or not she can afford things, like going out to dinner at a reasonably priced family restaurant. That makes no sense to me, but it is her reality based on her experiences. Feeling secure in your relationship, feeling that your life and home are not about to fall into chaos and ruin is a feeling. Security comes from experiencing, again and again, that a set of events or circumstances are safe and can be counted on. If poly is new, there is no experience to grant that sense of security. It is going to take time for those experiences to build.

Now, let's jump a couple levels to the 4th level up (and the 2nd from the top) this one is all about confidence, self esteem, respect of others and the like. These are many of the things that help to make poly work (in my opinion). But here's the catch. Most people are not going to give a rats back side about the respect of others and is not going to have the energy to work on their own confidence or self esteem if they don't feel secure in their family or home. 

So, if a poly person REALLY wants to make poly work, they need to work WITH their partner/s to make sure that these more basic needs, like sex, security and belonging (the level I skipped) are met before the 'higher' needs can even be considered.

At the top of the hierarchy are things like problem solving, lack of prejudice and accepting facts. Funny, Those are all pretty important for poly to work. And again, those are never going to come about until everyone feels secure and confidant. 

Yet, so often I see and hear how people new to poly are trying to jump right to the top of the these things. Unfortunately, that doesn't work. We have to start at the bottom and work our way up. It's the only way to build a strong base upon which to build.


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